Saturday, 14 May 2011

Mega Trends follow-up

Science Of The Time’s youth Cool Hunt is the biggest pan-European empirical research project that systematically and continually explores what is considered cool by target group of 17-35. From this perspective, cool does not so much mean hip or even painfully hip (like the ‘Nikes’ of this world). It primarily means cool in an inspiring and attractive way with future growth potential.
Over 150 selected and well-briefed cool hunters in major European cities like Moscow or Oslo document what they consider cool about sports shoes, places of entertainment, websites, celebrities, men, women, shops, TV-shows etc. Each one of them has to explain why they consider things cool. This is essential! If they do not come up with credible explanations, their reports will be nothing but a display of painfully chic gadgets. If cool hunters can produce credible insight, however, their reports will spark significant interest. 
This very development will strike a chord with companies such as Heineken, MSN Microsoft, Lee, Wrangler, Eastpack, NOS, Footlocker, Sanoma Men’s Magazines, Unilever Food, and Orange. Why? Because all brands, however big, should question how they could become more attractive and inspiring. They should consider what cool mentality trends they can relate to and to which extent they would use them. 
The way in which this is done of course depends on the nature of the product. Detergents, for instance, require an approach that is different from a TV-show or sports shoes. Our cool hunters precede the masses without losing touch with them. They are trained to translate the future significance of anything they spot for a large group of followers. They have to uncover the motives and reasoning behind everything cool literally uncovering mentalities. Only the very best, the cool strategy tigers, help think about the influence of this immanent mentality on the launch of brands, product development, marketing and communication. An extensive overview of the most important trends follows in the next paragraphs.

Mega trend: The Experience Economy
Some trends have the all the traits of a mega movement that characterizes the entire society even though it is initially most visible in the youth market. The rise of Experience Economy is an example of such a mega movement. People do not desire mere products anymore. They are fed up with those. They long for memorable experiences - ones that are precious and of which you can never get enough. Marketing of memorable experiences is therefore very important for future growth.
This development is nevertheless subject to constant change too. In the beginning, flagships such as Nike Town, Sony Centers, and the Armani Building in Milan were at the very centre of the Experience Economy. Our cool hunters, however, soon pointed out those flagships were too artificial and over-marketed.
Things had to be smaller, more mysterious. We called this the Living Room Society phase of Experience Economy. For example, watching a movie in an open air cinema together with three thousand people is making the outdoors your living room. That was cool and still is cool, just like the flagships are still cool for the masses!
In the mean time, our cool hunters directed us to the next phase of Experience Economy in which it is the coolest when experiences are predicators to products. No disruption caused by marketing anymore. Just the most awesome cocktail, or the I-pod naturally (“having all your favorite music with you anytime”), or even a stain remover that really works for a change!
Experience Economy, shoppertainment: “I wanted the store to be as soft as skin and made of fabric.”
Provided by our London cool hunters

Experience Economy, Living Room Experience. Being with friends is the best source for great experiences. Brands should anticipate this.

Mega trend: Co-creative society

Prahlad’s The Future of Competition, co-creating unique value with consumers is a widely read book among CEOs worldwide. People want products they helped to create. This adds to the mega trend of Experience Economy too. The immense co-creative success of both Napster and iTunes is a perfect example of this. No more standard CD’s distributed by the music industry. Instead, compose your own CD!
Another mega trend that reaches beyond the youth market is Sumerset, an American company that builds houseboats. Anyone thinking of having a houseboat build by Sumerset can participate in the virtual community hosted by the company. 
In this way, a customer is able to communicate with other customers about their boat in order to exchange any information they think would be relevant for progress or personalization of their boat. 
In addition, Sumerset itself learns about what customers require for the very product they build. This will eventually lead to a closer cooperation between customer and company providing the customer with a co creative product that maximizes his or her satisfaction.

Gillmore shows how anyone can produce news using personal web logs, Internet chat groups and email. He sends a wake up call to newsmakers, politicians, business executives, celebrities, and the marketers and PR flacks who promote them. He explains how to successfully play by the rules of this new era and shift from ‘control’ to ‘engagement’.

Mega trend: Manipulating Media Society
Our cool hunters are fascinated by the question of what it means to live in a society that is controlled by manipulative media. They never stop wondering about it. The cool hunters over the age of 50 (yet another research project) dislike over-done and digitally touched up images. Young cool hunters, however, find them both inspiring and appealing because they either reveal or suggest a lot about our mutual reality. 
Real or manipulated remains the question regardless of the fact that the answer is difficult to come up with. Is Beckham still human? Or has he evolved into a brand?
A hand-drawn picture of him in the nude may be the best example confirming that he just might still be human. It goes without saying this is not just about Beckham. Manipulated images show how intangible and novel life is in a Manipulating Media Society. To be in touch with this development is not easy but is guaranteed cool. Mega trend Manipulating Media Society leads to several mentality trends in a more or less direct way.
Whether manipulated or not: the image is liked.
Provided by a Parisian cool hunter

Beckham as a real person, not just a brand!
An anti-dote against over-manipulated media.                                            

Cool mentality trend: Appropriation
Appropriating brands, products, cities, jeans to a level that they almost completely become your own product is considered extremely cool. “Anything goes” on a planet where so many things are manipulated. Increasingly, the pimp my car, -my bike, -my nails, -my credit card, -my pubic hair movement is spreading throughout society. As was predicted, the impact of this mentality trend is huge!
In the meantime, a new generation of Cool Appropriation that is yet again more creative has emerged. For example, a young man seemingly imbedded himself in one of Paris’ statues, making it look like the city was his. Or parties in Poland being organized at a place (Fort M) from which not so long ago the Russians controlled the city. Or what about women’s jackets accessorized with a rose that lights up when approaching a Wifi spot?
Graffiti culture, pimp my city is a continuous cool mentality trend Appropriation.
Provided by a Rotterdam cool hunter.

”You Create. We Assemble” Nike anticipates cool
component of Appropriation.   

Cool mentality trend: Wonderland
A lot of our cool hunters state that life in Europe is over-marketed, obligatory and, more important, lacks creativity. This is why they consider people exceptionally cool when they succeed in creating their very own Wonderland. This includes themselves for that matter and again is very “own”! This Wonderland does not refer to some kind of haven where you can escape society. 
Quite opposite, it is an individually constructed creative and inspiring place from which you can enter society fully replenished and recharged at a time that suits you best. Gwen Stefani’s video clips prove that the Wonderland trend is already used widely. In addition, the trend is being boosted by new impulses such as Mark Ryden’s poetic, robust and sometimes manipulated images. Another example of this is manipulated Teletubbies. These examples also apply to Manipulating Media Dimension.

Provided by a Roman cool hunter

Provided by a Helsinki cool hunter

Cool mentality trend: Cool Communicators of Cool

Accepting the fact that general existence is over-marketed and artificial immanently means that Cool Communicators of Cool are the only true heroes left. They are the incorruptible artists, designers, and communicators like Fafi or Kaws who steal the show globally. Indeed, they are not for sale. Their incorruptibility is in their DNA and they radiate this trait.
It is because of this that Pepsi, Absolute Vodka, or Foot Locker manage to cooperate with them. It is common knowledge Cool Communicators of Cool only cooperate with brands they fully approve of. This is also very cool for brands who manage to find their way and access the last of the Authentics.

Designer toys are and will be cool for the time being because they’re created by the Last of the Authentics.
Provided by our Berlin cool hunters

Provided by our Prague cool hunters

Cool mentality: Amazement, Awareness, Guts & Positivity
After 9/11, after the murder of Theo van Gogh and in an era of the spreading bird flu threat, people long for level-headed and courageous positivity. This longing is perceived as inspiring and attractive. Hence, it has future growth potential!
Right after 9/11, volunteering became cool. Now, this applies to images displaying global problems in an intriguing way as well. The pictures imply guts and positivity and are devoid of any shallowness. On the one hand, this trend is increasing as is evidenced by TV commercials like the Dutch Weest Optimistisch! (I.e. be positive). On the other hand, the avant-garde of our cool hunters are still feeding the trend with new ideas which is a sign that it is persistent and spreading.

”People with angel wings, that is what we need”,
a cool hunter from Stockholm stated.

Cool mentality trend Amazement, Awareness,
Guts & Positivity often has a very critical post-No Logo view on life.
With this trend, criticizing in a creative visual manner is commonplace.

Cool mentality trend: The rise of the metrosexual and his discontents

It is wrong for anyone to be thinking the metrosexual man as a trend is history, and could therefore be replaced by new concepts such as the retrosexual or the ├╝bersexual. 
The retrosexual is just another variation of the metrosexual and his discontent; and the ├╝bersexual is nothing more than the metrosexual recycled for 50+ men. Without any doubt, metrosexuality is the new paradigm when considering men.
Metrosexuals below 35 are responsible for numerous developments such as the fitness revolution, the male cosmetics revolution, the male fashion revolution, and the male wellness revolution. It is all about men who understand (physical) impression management and know how to use it. That is why they go to the gym, dress well, and use skin care products. They are men who enjoy grooming themselves, who know how to do this (wellness), and do it in a way usually confined to women only. It is this group of men - completely at ease with their metrosexualitity - a brand such as Heineken focuses on. 
At the same time, there are metrosexuals who struggle with the question if they are still real men. Questions like, “Where is my inner cowboy?” exemplify this. As a result, those metrosexuals watch Jackass. They gaze at stylish soccer players - those pitch cowboys who enjoy fashion just like them without affecting their male image in any way. In addition, real men from the past are a source of inspiration for metrosexuals too (hence the retro-man trend). The metrosexual will continue to use (only women apply!) skin care products while simultaneously wanting to keep a tough, virile, rugged, and even boorish image. Contrary to Heineken, Amstel focuses on these men who are inclined to metrosexuality but mainly fix on the discontents that are caused by it.
A fashionable Metrosexual, with an unmistakable virile flexibility.             Provided by a Milanese cool hunter

Cool mentality trends: women

Metrosexuality (and its discontents) is the common denominator of male trends. There is no such paradigm, however, for female trends (anyone who can come up with the female counterpart of metrosexuality, please mail us!?). Regardless of the lack of denominator, a certain coordinative trend surfaces among females too. More than ever women want ‘their’ movies, magazines, brands and  TV-series showing female existence in every detail and at least reflecting all its challenges, problems, and complexities. Those challenges, problems, and complexities need to be shown elaborately from at least four perspectives. Moreover, they need to be presented in a clever and especially entertaining way like is done in Sex and the City. Other examples are Desperate Housewives and the L-Word. If these ‘demands’ aren’t met, women just won’t take a liking to you, your product, or your brand. This trend persists on an inspiring conceptual level. We’d better anticipate it! It is here to stay and is cool!

More than ever, vulnerable and open, willing to provoke in a natural and obvious way.
Provided by one of our cool hunters in Copenhagen

translated by Robert Koch for Carl Rohde, founder and leader of, a global virtual network of trend- and market researchers.

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